Ben Rabb, is the CEO of 55 Retail, an asset network that provides investors with access to global investment, allowing a seamless and efficient flow of high-quality assets around the world. Ben has more than two decades of experience in running businesses successfully by driving profitability through FP&A initiatives. He has exhaustive experience in business management, product strategies, network analytics, global programs, and operations.
Ben joined Visa Inc. way back in 1997. He continued his stint till 2018 where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff to group executive, responsible for all administration and operations for a globally diverse team. Since January 2019, he has also been working as an Advisor at MYXR.
CryptoNewsZ: Kindly brief about yourself and your journey in the crypto world. How has been the experience so far?
My journey into the crypto world has really just begun having recently joined 55.com after a long career in payments. Someone once told me, “no one goes into payments on purpose.” While that may no longer be the case, it was certainly true for me when I took what I thought would be a short-term consulting job to work on Visa’s Year 2000 Project. Over the past 20+ years, I have seen payments advance from delivering basic utility to delivering value-add intelligent services today. Crypto is the next step in the evolution of payments, and we are now seeing widespread adoption by the biggest names in business as well as governments imposing crypto-specific regulations. My experience has been truly eye-opening and stimulating. Crypto has inspired a new wave of creativity. It will not only change how we buy and sell everything but will also advance financial inclusion. I feel energized every day to learn more and create revolutionary products and services that will change the status quo and solve problems for users around the world.
CryptoNewsZ: 55.com is the asset platform offering global asset access and liquidity to everyone. How is it achieving this?
55 achieves its goal by providing world-class access to asset liquidity through several venues. We have been building an execution engine called ‘GBBO’ (Global Best Bid and Offer) that is responsible for routing, pricing, and trade execution at the best bid and offer price from our network of counterparties and LPs around the world. We hope to deepen the GBBO network by onboarding more partners. Keep in mind that subject to regulatory compliance, taking the statement that 55 can provide access and liquidity to “everyone” literally is impossible. However, inclusion for all stakeholders is what we aim to achieve. And in terms of access, we make sure to include and prioritize a retail focus, whereas other players tend to focus exclusively on the big institutions.
CryptoNewsZ: What has been your contribution towards the ecosystem of the global circulation of tokenized asset?
I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and worked with a group of very smart people at Visa who understood the importance of its transaction-processing network. Early in my career, the network was generally perceived as a utility, and it was not spoken about as a product – it took a backseat to the brand. My friends who worked on branded products (credit, debit, and prepaid) even joked that I worked in the coal mine, and there was nothing sexy about network processing. However, we were able to show how the network was the delivery channel for innovation and the ability to develop differentiated value-add products relied on seeing the transaction flow over the network, then using the transaction as the delivery mechanism back to the client. We built a global team of experts to protect and grow transactions on the network so as not to lose this advantage. We educated clients, governments, media, influencers, and even our own internal teams on the importance of the network. The terms “network” and “network effect” became used and understood in the mainstream and by payments industry analysts. This work helped change Visa’s image from a payment brand to a processing technology company – a fintech. Others in the industry followed and brought their networks front and center. Today’s digital pioneers understand this, and that the global circulation of tokenized assets relies on networks to connect all stakeholders and is key to the acceptance, growth, and ubiquity of tokenized assets.
CryptoNewsZ: Please brief us about Fifty Five (FF). How can one purchase FF? Where can one use FF?
Looking forward, 55.com will launch its updated Fifty Five (FF) token using the Asset Token Onboarding (ATO) platform, which we’ve seen recent success within our launch of the Supreme (SUP) token. The FF ATO will allow verified users to acquire the token and subsequently trade it on the 55 Asset Network. FF is the transactional utility token at the heart of 55.com; FF holders can utilize its functionality in various ways throughout the site including tokenizing assets, rewarding an author for popular content, paying transaction fees and other ways as the industry evolves.
CryptoNewsZ: Can you talk about your recently launched Asset Token Onboarding (ATO) platform and the Supreme token sale? What was the purpose behind this initiative?
Our ATO platform is designed to launch tokens that have yet to be made available to the public, including limited availability brands that are not traditionally known as blockchain-based products and services. The first major brand of products we launched was Supreme (SUP), which went live on our platform at the end of May 2019. The purpose of that initiative was to grow our user base and generate interest in the incremental accumulation model of buying tokens for the purpose of redeeming them at a later time for the underlying asset. In the case of Supreme, users can accumulate and redeem tokens for a limited edition Supreme X Swarovski Box Logo hooded sweatshirt. The products are always redeemable for a fixed number of tokens set at the inception of the ATO. Because the price of these limited edition products fluctuates on the secondary markets like StockX, tokenizing them allows consumers to incrementally work their way toward acquiring the item during the peaks and troughs instead of having to blow a hole in their wallet in one shot, only to find the price fall the next day.
CryptoNewsZ: How do users transfer tokens using the 55.com platform? Please elaborate on the process.
It’s pretty simple – 55 provides a wallet to all our users and allows them to trade their tokens on the platform, either on the order book or through an OTC deal.
CryptoNewsZ: What do you think about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology? Can they ever be separated?
From a technical perspective, cryptocurrencies cannot be separated from blockchain technology to stay true to their promise – an exchange of value via cryptocurrency must be recorded in a blockchain to establish clear and transparent ownership. Conversely, blockchain technology can be freely separated from cryptocurrencies in various use cases of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) including first and foremost the transparency of the ledger, which can be used in everything from custodianship, supply chain, auditing, asset transference, and much more. From a fundamental perspective, crypto and blockchain are often combined terms used interchangeably by those who don’t understand either. I think this can be changed with more education and as mainstream acceptance increases.
CryptoNewsZ: If you ever got a chance, what would be that one thing which you would like to change in the worlds of cryptocurrency and blockchain?
The easy answer is acceptance and is what I am working towards today. However, the masses must first understand both crypto and blockchain to gain that acceptance. Crypto has been largely understood as high-risk speculation or a way to circumvent oversight and regulation to conduct illicit trade. I would like people to understand that cryptocurrency has been created by people and business to solve problems created by governments, namely the cross border movement of currency. It is the entrepreneurial equivalent of fiat currency and one must place their trust in both for both to have value. I would like people to understand that blockchain is simply a way to record any type of transaction with efficiency, certainty, and speed. It is a permanent record of what value was exchanged (could be crypto, fiat or good old fashioned barter), for what, when, and by whom. Try explaining crypto and blockchain to family and friends. My general experience has been blank stares and comments that it’s too complicated to understand. Whether or not the technical barrier of entry for the lay user is still too high remains a point for debate, but I believe that it’s the responsibility of all of us within the industry to change that perception.
CryptoNewsZ: What challenges do you think 55.com would encounter in its pursuit towards becoming ‘One World, One Exchange Market!’ How is the team gearing up to take up these challenges?
There are many challenges to providing a borderless, frictionless platform for global asset trading. From a customer service perspective, we’re seeing growing demand across the globe and thus need to constantly grow our offering to allow customers from allowed countries access to buy and sell assets freely while providing them with the support they expect to make their experience as seamless as possible. From a technology perspective, our engineering team has been working diligently on the inner workings of our proprietary order routing engine. This allows us to connect and share order flow with verified 3rd party institutions. From a compliance perspective, our challenges are all derived from state/country based jurisdictions, whereby rules and regulations are only getting more stringent and harder to apply. Our compliance team is always looking to streamline and automate processes to allow us to quickly onboard users while limiting our exposure to bad actors.
The competition in this space is heating up, and 55’s primary mission is to work as swiftly and securely as possible to deliver tangible value to our retail and institutional clients. The user experience is first and foremost, while speed, security, and regulation are all priorities that we must meet across all jurisdictions in which we wish to operate.
CryptoNewsZ: What is coming up in the roadmap of 55.com in 2019-2020?
As with any roadmap, listening to the market, anticipating user’s needs, and implementing solutions that bring the highest value has to be the core of any service-based company. 55 is no exception. We’re working to provide solutions to enable both virtual and physical payment products in multiple geographies in the coming months. Our mission is to provide seamless global asset trading to the masses, broaden our offerings across different asset classes, increase our liquidity pools, and open up new markets while continuing to provide best-in-class customer service. I look forward to sharing more news in the months ahead!